Why the NDP Sucks…

Let me qualify that from the outset by adding the following: Here in B.C.

Take for example this interview by the intrepid Sean Holman of Public Eye Online with New Democrat MLA and veteran spinner (in a former life she was a PR shill for the United Nations in Kosovo) Claire Trevena (North Island) about the party’s 2009 election platform.

“Well, we’ve got a document which is party policy…”

Great opening! Trevena explains how a commitment to development of a “new economy” crucially focused on “sustainability” — a nebulous, ill-defined concept — that was unanimously passed by NDP delegates at their convention two years ago, was quite inexplicably derailed. At the time, the notion was that all of the party’s policies henceforward opposing the province’s neo-liberal establishment based on its “new way of looking at things” as Trevena describes it, would be filtered through this lens of “sustainability” as it boldly and courageously blazed a “new way forward” toward a “new economy.” But then… uh-oh! The party executive kind of forgot about all that gaseous piffle its delegates approved and didn’t even bother including any mention of it the last election campaign. Oops!

But no worries, comrades! The NDP has now gotten with the program and presently has a brand spanking new resolution in the works to create a committee that will study the previous resolution from two years ago and report back to the executive body of the party at sometime before next summer about how the executive might move in some direction to positively implement its previously forgotten/ignored commitment… perhaps in the form of a binding resolution to enable the progressive incorporation of some affirmative proposals that could eventually lead to the development of a really keen and shiny sounding policy paper that may quite possibly, some day or another, at a point in time and in a form as yet to be fully decided upon and determined by the executive after appropriate deliberation following an extensive process of consultation with everyone and their dog, constitute a vital aspect of the party’s next election platform.

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40 Comments

Filed under Humour, NDP

40 responses to “Why the NDP Sucks…

  1. Navvy

    “My fellow Americans. As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball, but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward, upward not forward,
    and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.”

    That’s the first thing that popped into my head.

  2. I think you get the Medal of Homer for that one… 😉

  3. jkg

    Why is it that anytime a politician mentions “lens,” the discussion descends into more platitude-laden obscurity?

    It sounds like a familiar plot: Appeal to “grand vision,” talk about strong values only to be bogged down in the inertia of their own party structure and grandiosity. This seems to plague a lot of political parties, and for the person who exemplifies that, look no further than Sarah Palin.

  4. counter-coulter

    @Navvy: Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos.

  5. It’s not a problem that’s unique to the NDP of course. Just frustrating given we’ve had a really lame, rather passive opposition in this province for far too long.

    And it’s especially frustrating that they seemed almost resigned to losing this last election. May just be my impression, but they hardly seemed to be making good try of it.

  6. CC: That’s funny. For years after their defeat in the 70s, the NDP’s bumper-sticker slogan was “Don’t blame me, I voted NDP” Kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

  7. Curious RT, not being a BC’r myself, did the NDP start to attack the HST after they realized people were upset and did they rev it up?

  8. Question:

    Is there a party in existance in this wonderful country, that just does the “right thing” (which admittedly is going to be different in an NDP, or Liberal, or Conservative) without trying to “focus” it through some stupid “lens” of public opinion.

    In other words, when did it become a bad thing for a politician to just use their own common-sense, without first seeking to be “on point” with their party, or their ideology, or some such other piffle, basically preventing a simple honest response to whatever the problem is they are dealing with.

  9. Navvy

    In other words, when did it become a bad thing for a politician to just use their own common-sense, without first seeking to be “on point” with their party, or their ideology, or some such other piffle, basically preventing a simple honest response to whatever the problem is they are dealing with.

    Leaving aside the fact that this golden age of non-political politics never existed, the current extreme emphasis on marketing, image control and PR blowjobs is the result of a number of things. The invention of television, more recently 24/7 news, and political access to mass marketing all contribute to the inability of politicians to rise above.

    That being said, the real culprit is a combination of stupidity and selfishness among the general public. The fact of the matter is that nobody can get elected speaking the truth. Simple as that. Don’t blame politicians, they’re doing what they’re supposed to do.

  10. Ti-Guy

    In other words, when did it become a bad thing for a politician to just use their own common-sense, without first seeking to be “on point” with their party, or their ideology, or some such other piffle, basically preventing a simple honest response to whatever the problem is they are dealing with.

    That died with The Green Shift. And not because it was a great idea necessarily (although it was common sense) but because of how the current government (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Conservative Party of Canada) undermined it, how the media communicated it and how the public just swallowed it.

  11. Ti-Guy — Not one of our finest moments politically speaking, for all of the reasons you mentioned. Quite a shabby performance all around by everyone concerned.

  12. jkg

    when did it become a bad thing for a politician to just use their own common-sense?

    “Common sense” has become a popular catch phrase. J.R. Saul made a very good point about this: Common sense has become this way to supposedly cut through all the thickness of complex discussion to arrive at the truth when in reality, it should be regarded as a form of innate shared knowledge.

    That died with The Green Shift. And not because it was a great idea necessarily (although it was common sense) but because of how the current government (a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Conservative Party of Canada) undermined it, how the media communicated it and how the public just swallowed it

    This is a perfect example of what J.R. Saul was talking about. During this period, a typical refrain was “well, common sense tells me that this is a horrible idea” without giving any other reason or resorting to some sort of ham fisted platitude. I bet most people probably didn’t even take the time to understand the fundamental difference between Cap and Trade and a Carbon tax let alone study the actual economics behind the Green Shift. The simple invocation of common sense seemed to be used to reduce the debate while rationalizing that most of the reasoning stemmed from group think or more precisely simply going with the popular opinion.

  13. Ti-Guy

    I was reminded of it again recently by this post, which was highlighted at MacLeans’. To quote:

    “Oh, and I must scold Ms Taber for this throwaway paragraph in the Globe story I linked to:

    The Liberals lost badly in the last election, partly as a result of Mr. Dion’s complicated Green Shift plan that would put a tax on carbon. It was not communicated well; Canadians did not understand it.”

    The Green Shift was NOT complicated: carbon taxes up, other taxes down. What’s so hard to understand? Indeed, it was a model of clarity and precision when compared to the muddled schemes that the Conservatives and the NDP were selling.”

    Journalists claim that they’re just reporting on what the parties are doing, but you can see that they’re really communicating their own ideas. One being that the rest of us are really, really really stupid.

  14. Ian

    You catch wind of this yet RT?
    http://tinyurl.com/yexx3wa

  15. Ti-Guy

    This is a perfect example of what J.R. Saul was talking about.

    It’s also an example of what Saul has also said about common sense. In modern times, it tends to be presented as something only suitable for small children and animals. Which is in fact correct considering how juvenile and bestial this culture has become. 😉

    It’s also been the genius of the right wing to recast ignorance, intractability, closed- and/or bloody-mindedness and incuriousness as “common sense.” As in “The Common Sense Revolution” which even Chris Stockwell has admitted was cynical.

  16. JKG — Good point, and let’s not forget that “common sense” was rapidly translated by our Conservative friends into moronic attack adverts (some of which, with fantastic temerity were actually relayed through talking gas pumps!) suggesting that gently nudging Canada towards a green economy by attaching a cost to carbon would immediately result in a horrifying “tax on everything” that would ruinously cripple the economy… This mendacious crap was then followed by a wave of manufactured outrage dutifully provided by the pack of hysterical nitwits, professional gasbags and wittering nincompoops that constitute our so-called “liberal media”… finally culminating in a phony, arguably illegal, and completely needless election. Yeah, there was just piles of “common sense” going on at that time…

  17. It’s also been the genius of the right wing

    The essence of Straussian thinking requires such cynicism in order that so-called “esoteric truths” can be delivered to “average people” on the sly. The great irony (well, amongst many others) is that such an attitude of intellectual superiority presumes the most arrogant and condescending sort of elitism imaginable… I suspect this gives rise to the phony “common man” pretense affected by so many politicians and other such cultural warfare memes and tropes beloved by the media that dovetail rather conveniently with the irrational predispositions of religious fundamentalists.

  18. Ian — Yep, thanks. I posted about it the other day. Bizzare, huh?

  19. Ti-Guy

    This mendacious crap was then followed by a wave of manufactured outrage dutifully provided by the pack of hysterical nitwits, professional gasbags and wittering nincompoops that constitute our so-called “liberal media”

    Which is again, more genius. The so-called controversy, along with the drama, became the news, which the reporters reported on endlessly.

    I see Rob hasn’t returned…

  20. Navvy

    This mendacious crap was then followed by a wave of manufactured outrage dutifully provided by the pack of hysterical nitwits, professional gasbags and wittering nincompoops that constitute our so-called “liberal media

    However, it does make it all the more satisfying when the media does call them on their horse shit. Today for instance, Taber, of all people, calls out the latest CPC official talking point release for what it is:

    “The talking points are nasty; there is no real narrative or logic to the Tory criticism of Mr. Ignatieff. It’s a rant.”

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/blogs/bureau-blog/tories-throw-coalition-fit/article1384402/

    Sounds like the detainee stuff is putting CPC strategists in an especially foul mood.

  21. Ti-Guy

    How lovely. Just in time for Christmas, like last year.

    Maybe it’ll become a new holiday tradition?

    Fuck you Harper. Right up your Harper-hole.

  22. Navvy

    Fuck you Harper. Right up your Harper-hole.

    The Christmas jingle practically writes itself!

  23. Ti-Guy — Yeah, perhaps… Not sure how much “genius” is required to figure out the “tit-for-tat/he said v. she said” dynamics of the media that present two sides of an argument as prima facie legitimate aspects of a manufactured “controversy” just because they happen to share two equal sides of a screen.

    As for reporters… well, most of them are lazy (hey, it’s human nature — go figure) and it’s just way easier to report about what other people are saying. Some sentient humans might describe this as “gossip” but in the realm of infotainment, such frantic dispatches from the bathroom stall are considered to be “news”…

  24. Oops. We seem to have taken a scatological turn here…

    But never mind that. It’s always a sign of a gaping nadir of the bleeding fucking obvious when GlobeMedia’s resident tallowhead Jane Taber manages to momentarily decouple her face from the fragrant backside of the government to suggestively chide them by lamely proffering up the notion that their ridiculous, fact-challenged line of argument is perhaps a bit “nasty” and “illogical” — yeah… ya figure, Jane?

  25. Ti-Guy

    I suppose “genius” in the sense that Conservatives are using tactics that are relatively novel for Canadian political communication at presicely the time they’ve begun to work.

    The genius certainly was in evidence at the beginning of his tenure, when his attempts to de-legitimize the Parliamentary Press Gallery sent the journalists in this country into a frenzy of self-recrimination and launched a class war between the seasoned journalists and the up-and-coming Web 2.0 douchebags who now dominate the mainstream news media.

  26. And on second thought… How monstrously shallow and lazy is it that Taber elects to superficially concentrate on the character of the government’s position and their laughably ridiculous lines of attack, rather than dealing instead with the plain facts of the matter.

    This is how things end up going all haywire. Now discussion will get diverted into a pointless debate about the lack of “narrative” and apparent absence of “logic” (as if that ever matters to pandering courtiers like Taber). She will have pretended to make a legitimate point (that’s not entirely absent of merit) without having made the least bit of effort to elaborate in a factually substantial manner on her suggestions — essentially just providing a neat little rhetorical fork in the road where people can then proceed to ignorantly fling poo at one another based on their preconceived notions.

  27. Ti-Guy

    Look at Taber’s face. She’s knows what she’s doing. Giving ’em what they want.

  28. I suppose “genius” in the sense that Conservatives are using tactics that are relatively novel for Canadian political communication…

    Maybe so. But allow me to insist that “genius” be preceded by the word “evil” in this context.

    Yes… it’s all very clever and quite smart of the Conservatives to have employed these time-tested political tactics of manipulation and married them up with the latest innovations in high technology and computer science to arrive at… what? A third of people thinking they could be worse and a usually near stalemate in the polls with another party that has no policy platform and a leader with the personality of a lifeless trout.

  29. Ti-Guy

    We’ll have to wait and see if it’s ultimately successful. If Harper manages to drive voter-turnout even lower, he could get his majority.

    I’m not being pessimistic. I just don’t know.

  30. There’s a thought. Seems to be working on the municipal level. What’s the turnout there… 20% or less? And for school board trustees what’s that? 10% maybe? i.e., the friends and family vote… (oh, but education is sooooo important!).

    Round up a hundred people at random and ask them who their MLA is… Or for that matter, how many provinces and territories there are in Canada. Get them to locate any but the most obvious country on a map of the world or briefly explain how long division works. And yet, this is the pool of folks that pollsters aim absurdly skewed questions at, tally their responses and then relay the puzzled mass of ignorant feedback to us as “news” with a shellac of witless opinion glazed over it.

  31. Grammin

    Hey Red, you forgot to write up on how Iggy folded like a polyester suit on the HST 🙂

  32. You mean the same way Harper folded like a soggy napkin on how there wouldn’t be a budget deficit? 🙂

  33. I’m back. Sorry. Occasionally I work to pay for my ability to kanoodle around the internet..

    I had attempted to be sort of non-partisan, but, no matter..

    “Common-sense”, the way I think about it, isn’t just taking a simplistic look at a complex problem, and then fitting a square peg into a round hole. Maybe a better term than “common-sense” would be saying, “honest opinion, unfettered by extraneous influences.”

    So – with TG for example, while he clearly hates conservatives, and most Albertans, some time ago we had some discourse on child care, and we both agreed that it would be a good thing to have a solid child care program that improved the ability of single parents or lower and middle income people to particpate fully in the work force, but that the idea of paying to look after a doctor (or lawyer’s) children is probably going too far.. and, at the end of the day, it becomes not an ideological issue, but a, dare I say, common sense issue.. or an “honest opinion based upon the facts” issue.

    That’s more what I mean about “common-sense”.. which maybe wasn’t the best term, maybe, just honest, reasoned discussion, unfettered by the perceived need to “pull for your team”, or to “look good in public”.

  34. Ti-Guy

    I see what you mean, Rob.

    Yes, that would be refreshing. Unfortunately we’re at a point where a disturbing large number of people are unwilling to see (for reasons I don’t quite understand) that while we may not agree on what approaches to take, we quite often want the same things. The reason you and I could agree on child care is because both of us believe reducing poverty and mitigating the hardships of a lower income are good things. Not just for the people who can participate directly in those programs but for the rest of us as well.

    Some people think the idea of wanting the same things, particularly with respect to society is variously statism, totalitarianism or communism and that nothing besides “I’m alright, Jack” matters.

  35. Rob — You’re thinking about “common sense” in the way most sensible people do, but not in the cynically manipulative way that politicians do. Unfortunately this pleasing term of art so lovingly embraced by the press has been perverted beyond all recognition to the point where any meaning it may once have possessed is now a joke.

    Where, for example, is the “common sense” in spending billions of provincial and federal taxpayer dollars hosting a massive winter sporting event for a couple of weeks next year while the same government is cutting back health services, slashing arts funding, jacking up university tuition fees, actively displacing people from welfare, pocketing a carbon tax to no good end, squeezing municipalities in various ways that force them to cut services or jump up property taxes levied on rate-payers while foisting ludicrous projects onto them like replacing our iconic bascule bridge and planning to effect a regressive $2 billion transfer of wealth via the HST that will come into play once all that’s left from the Olympics® are the bills…

    And so on. All of the above “common sense” being done under the Conservative banner from a provincial government that simply shuts down the legislature for the better part of a year when it becomes inconvenient for it engage in that representative democracy thingee and in the past even tried to starve its opposition completely out of existence.

    Just for chuckles here are some initiatives that were promulgated in the last few years by the stealth “Liberal” government that are actually so-called “conservatives”:

    LiveSmart BC; Green Building Code;Citizens’ Conservation Council; Youth Climate Leadership Alliance; Youth LiveSmart; Trees for Tomorrow; Forests for Tomorrow; “Brownfields to Greenfields;’BC Bioenergy Strategy; Innovative Clean Energy Fund; Pacific Carbon Trust; Community Safety Strategy; Centre for Autism Education and Research; Working Roundtable on Forestry; Health Profession Review Board; BC Patient Safety Council; Patient Care Quality Review Boards; Centre for Brain Health.

    Needless to say all of the foregoing are complete bullshit public relations exercises and/or quangos. Although in some cases, they do provide millions of dollars for “world class facilities” to explain, why some kids are clumsy (they have developmental co-ordination disorder or DOD, as it’s now branded). Yeah… that was worth $25 million. And perhaps one day there’ll be a drug to address the problem of DOD.

    I’m sure we’ll be hearing our “Bloggin’ Tory” friends railing on about all that waste, fraud, useless bureaucracy, etc…. right? No, of course we won’t. Not a peep out of them. They’re off bashing immigrants, fretting about crime, worrying about aborted fetuses, demonizing that Kenyan guy in the White House, or sifting through the leftover chunks of whatever Michelle Malkin vomited up yesterday.

  36. jkg

    Common-sense”, the way I think about it…Maybe a better term than “common-sense” would be saying, “honest opinion, unfettered by extraneous influences” … That’s more what I mean about “common-sense”.. which maybe wasn’t the best term, maybe, just honest, reasoned discussion, unfettered by the perceived need to “pull for your team”, or to “look good in public”

    Oh, I suspected that was your intention and meaning as well as trying to be non-partisan, Rob, my response was simply pointing out that the ideal usage of Common Sense that you describe is not the usage that now pervades public discourse let alone retail politics. If anything, your illustrative example about your exchange with Ti-Guy is the exception that proves the general trend. Why? Because you have established an exchange based on shared knowledge, which necessitates, in such discussion, the principle of charity as it were, something that is absent for the reasons I discussed.

    My example using the Green Shift was simply because it was the most recent I can recall, and that it would be the most modern example of the warped ‘common sense’ that is typically invoked; also, it occurs after the publication of J.R. Sauls’ On Equilibrium , so I thought it would be a more apt example.

    However, a more interesting policy example would probably be the GST as it has a long history of crossing party lines. I would present as a more meta-example of the so called “common sense” that we see today because very few able to articulate how aspects of human qualities, now partitioned and isolated, have been deformed to the point where the greatest casualty or theatrical farce is that ideology is now promulgated as a self-evident truth (I know, I know, I am guilty of that crime too, but I am at least aware of it).

    Without capacity to consider the other or more colloquially, to think outside one’s own framework, it is very easy to appropriate ideas and the human qualities that support them. In some cases one is chosen in primacy over the others, which, in the arena of the citizenry and civil governance, results in the pursuit of power simply for power’s sake much in the same way change is pursued just for change’s sake. Going back to common sense, one can see how evidenced of this occurring. Common sense, quite paradoxically, is used both in a broad and narrow sense. It is broad in aim, that is, appealing to the most common dominator, but specific in intended response and result. That is why politicians invoke it so much. Since common sense is hard to define (What exactly is the shared knowledge people possess?), it is easy for someone to stipulate what exactly are the “extraneous influences,” unless as you say, there is a mutual agreement on what constitutes the factual reality. However, if a person is looking to have an intended goal ie. Win a debate or sell/defend a policy decision, one would be hard pressed to that person being charitable let alone willing to establish a factual basis for discussion.

  37. I appreciate the responses and the understanding of my intention. While, as far as you can make use of a label, I’m a conservative, I’m also very involved in promoting something called “collaborative law”, which is a form of dispute resolution helping divorced people understand their commonality and not just their differences.

    Something I’ve learned is that if we can create REAL dialogue and have people disengage their emotions and engage their reason.. quite often real, lasting, and effective agreement can be reached where it otherwise seemed impossible.

    And I think we have some pretty serious issues that need that kind of calm, rational discussion that current political debate doesn’t provide. And I’m dissappointed that more people on “my side” of the spectrum don’t embrace that.

    Politicians yelling at eachother and seeking to make “points” isn’t part of that equation. Photo-ops with big cheques isn’t part of that equation.

    I think it’s possible. It’s not easy. But then things worth while seldom are.

  38. Rob — It may be naïve, but I think most sensible people can arrive at common ground on a wide variety of issues without necessarily being divided simply because of ideological concerns that dictate they incessantly be at each others’ throats in some win/lose contest.

    Compromise, accommodation and collaboration are all essential qualities to getting things accomplished in whatever sphere of activity.

    Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of real dialog and far too much hostile gainsaying in the media and most especially on the Internet where scoring cheap points against one’s opponents or simply trashing other people for pleasure is frequently the preferred game.

  39. sci

    I’ve been looking for something like this. Very interesting.
    Thanks.
    Shaun T Insanity

  40. Fuck, I hate spammers. To the gallows with the lot of them, I say.

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